Welcome to my website for New Media Writing, a course taught by David Morgen at Emory University during the Fall 2017 semester.
I have spent the past semester analyzing the ways in which new media shapes 21st-century life while simultaneously harnessing my personal digital identity. Here you will find the culmination of my work for this semester. You will notice that this website, much like new media itself, does not rely on any single medium to convey its messages. Rather, this website features an amalgamation of text, photos, hand drawn images, audio, and html and css code, all of which coordinate to portray myself and my academic journey. This page serves as a guide my growth this semester through the major components of the course: my technology literacy narrative, the class podcast series, our expansion upon the Equality of Opportunity Project, and my weekly sketch assignments. You will find that these works represent different facets of myself, my thought processes, my academic interests, and my relationship with technology. The domain, therefore, communicates to you, whether stranger, peer, or potential employer, the ways in which I think about and create new media and my place therein.
"We who use the internet have the opportunity to wield the architecture of participation to defend our freedom to create and consume digital media according to our own agendas"
--Howard Rheingold, Net Smart: How to Thrive Online
Technology Literacy Narrative
It goes without saying that I have been interacting with technology long before I enrolled in New Media Writing. My technology literacy narrative describes those early interactions, which metamorphosed from mindless clicks on Minesweeper and Paint in elementary school to a near-obsessive relationship with my phone in my high school years.
The literacy narrative was similar to a traditional written essay in that I used prose to communicate my thoughts and arguments to my readers. Writing my literacy narrative was novel, however, in that I had to examine my own experiences as the foundation of my writing, rather than implementing external research. Due to the introspective nature of the assignment, moreover, I began my writing in a manner similar to that of a diary entry, where I often assumed that the reader had more knowledge of my personal life than possible. Consequently, I spent a long time revising my initial draft in order to make the finished piece more comprehensible to an unfamiliar reader.
The process of writing this piece gave me great insight into aspects of myself and my relationship to technology that I had never considered, many of which are discussed in my reflection on the assignment. When forced to think deeply about seemingly mundane details of my past, I realized that they were in fact, not mundane at all. I had never considered my middle-school forum posts on Seventeen magazine, for example, to be significant until I realized that they introduced my to the idea of interacting with strangers on the internet in constructive ways. It is thanks to these early experiences that I now have the relationship to new media that I do today.
Throughout the semester, I had the pleasure of working with two of my classmates, Dami and Christine, to create three episodes for our class podcast series, Media Nouveau. Each episode interrogates new media platforms that utilize concepts that we explored in class, putting course material into real-world context.
Creating these podcast episodes used many of the traditional critical thinking skills one would use in composing a traditional written essay: researching and synthesizing information as it pertains to a given topic in order to present a well-founded argument. A podcast is not simply an orated essay, however, and as such, the podcast mandated that I format my ideas in different ways than those with which I am familiar in order to deliver a cohesive argument. A formatting difference about which we spoke in class, for example, is the stark linearity of a podcast episode. Because one cannot refer back to earlier statements or mull over single phrases as one could with a written essay, a podcast episode must convey its message such that its listeners do not lose track.
Overcoming obstacles involved intense collaboration with my group members, with whom I constantly exchanged ideas until our final product was exactly how we envisioned. In order to make sure our argument was clear and cohesive, for instance, we decided to loosely script our dialogue. As I cited in my reflection on PatientsLikeMe & Collective Intelligence, writing a script "allowed us to clearly and fairly present arguments both for and against PLM while considering several aspects of the site and its implications." Successful decisions such as this were the result of discussion between group members in which we ultimately unified the best ideas of each member. The collaborative nature of working with two my group members has helped me in becoming responsive to the ideas of others without letting my own ideas be lost in the process. I played various roles in the creation of each episode, each of which entailed different levels of responsibility and different orders of thought.
Overall, my experience creating episodes for Media Nouveau has taught me how to make my ideas more coherent and easy-to-follow, which is helpful in any genre of writing. I have also improved in my ability to contribute meaningfully to a team, while also letting the ideas of others shine in their own right.
Equality of Opportunity Project
The students of New Media Writing and I collaborated to reimagine the data collected by the Equality of Opportunity Project (EOOP) in order to communicate to college administrators and prospective students the characteristics of universities that make them more or less successful in terms of promoting social mobility. Our website examines Emory University in the context of three classifications: elite universities, schools that are the most successful in promoting social mobility, and schools located in the southeast.
As the final assignment for the semester, I synthesized many of the skills that I had nurtured earlier in the semester in order to create this large-scale project. Like the podcast series, the creation of this website was an exercise in exploring modes of rhetorical composition. Instead of relying on an essay or podcast, however, our arguments were communicated through data visualizations, personal narratives, and summaries of qualitative research. Each group merged these strategies in different ways in order to suit its needs, based on the given topic. Qualitative research was a larger part of this assignment than any other task completed in class. Rather than simply paraphrasing and incorporating the ideas of others into our larger arguments, we had base our arguments on the data we collected ourselves from colleges' websites, interviews, or from the EOOP. Again, collaboration was a major component of this assignment. Each of the three topics had to communicate with each other in order to make sure they relate well to each other's arguments without being overly redundant. Within each group, furthermore, each individual utilized his or her strengths in order to paint a clear picture of the given topic. Our finished website puts the data collected by the EOOP into context, communicating important information to college administrators and prospective students.
On a weekly basis, I contributed a blog-like post to my website, each one forcing me to think in novel ways in order create a polished product. The creation of these sketches often entailed me stretching my mind in order to create unique, creative posts. Involved was an intricate series of steps, in which I frequently had to pause and revise my plans in order to best communicate my desired message to my readers, as detailed in the sketch, Sketch-by-step. Each sketch was accompanied by a short description, detailing my thought process, inspiration, or challenges in making the piece. Because the sketches are highly individualized, they contribute to my digital identity by highlighting different aspects of my personality and the workings of my mind. From Visual Notes: Neuroethics Overview, for example, one can learn that I am interested in bioethics, as well as understand the ways in which I organize and present information.
Due to the impracticality of creating each element of my sketch from scratch, I often utilized the CC-licensed images and other materials that I found elsewhere on the web. Consequently, I have learned a great deal about digital citizenship and the proper citation of my sources. I have also thought about how my works can be useful to other people on the internet, often writing a sentence or two referencing this at the end of my posts, as seen in Combophoto: Flying Fish. In this way, I feel as though I am using new media to collaborate with society in general, both taking from and contributing to a body of interesting work that can be found online.
"I could imagine this military-grade flying fish appearing in a futuristic war film wreaking havoc on its enemies from the air and sea. I could also see this image used as the logo for a think tank warning against the perils of technology. I could even see this image appearing in the pamphlet of the gentleman at the airport."
--Combophoto: Flying Fish
Research. Writing. Collaboration. Storytelling. Coding. Photography. Presentation.
At each juncture of this semester, I have utilized a myriad of skills, old and acquired, in order to publish multimodal works that are both visually appealing and informative to the reader.I hope that these works stand in conversation with one another, conveying to peers, strangers, and potential employers aspects of my personality and my skills that cannot be found elsewhere. As writer and critic Howard Rheingold suggests, I intend to use this domain to "wield the architecture of participation to defend [my] freedom to create and consume digital media according to [my] own agendas." In other words, this domain is a sampling of the ways in which I interact with and contribute to the new media landscape without the reliance of third-party platforms like Facebook or Twitter.